Josef Essberger

KWIM? I thought not.

For e-English read "electronic English" and for IYKWIM read "if you know what I mean".

And for KWIM? Yes, that's right. You'll have to FIOFY.

The internet has created a whole new way of speaking when we write email, post messages or chat online.

It saves time and typing effort, but it's no joke if you don't know the "secret". So just to help you if you're not already a netspeak expert, here are a few of the basic rules and codes people use on the internet.

Remember, these are for use on the internet with friends. We do not usually use them in formal letters or faxes.


If we want to emphasise a word (make it more important), we often use asterisks (*), like this:

"I *love* EnglishClub."

Sometimes people use capitals to add emphasis but it is not a good idea. MOST PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE A LOT OF CAPITALS. THEY LOOK RUDE AND CAN BE DIFFICULT TO READ.


If we want to express our feelings and emotions, we can use "smileys". A smiley is a combination of symbols that looks like a face sideways. The original, basic smiley (eyes, nose and smiling mouth) is very popular and shows that we are happy:


We can also do this with eyes and mouth only:


Of course, if we are unhappy, we can change the mouth: :-(

There are many possibilities. Here are a few more:

  • ;-) wink
  • :*) kiss
  • :~) tears


To save time when typing (and maybe to save money if you are online), people often abbreviate commonly-used phrases. There are hundreds of possibilities and you certainly do not need all of them!

Some of these codes are just the first letter of each word, for example:

imo = in my opinion

Some of these codes use the sound of the letter to represent the sound of a word. For example, the letter "c" sounds like the word "sea" or "see":

cu = see you

Some of these codes use numbers because the sound of the number is the same as the sound of another word (not the spelling!). For example, 4 (four) sounds like "for". And 8 (eight) sounds like "ate". So if we write L8 we get "late". If we write W8 we get "wait"!

Here are some more examples:

  • aamof = as a matter of fact
  • asap = as soon as possible
  • b4 = before
  • b4n = bye for now
  • cul8er = see you later
  • damhik = don't ask me how I know
  • eta = estimated time of arrival
  • f2f = face to face
  • gf = girlfriend
  • gmt = Greenwich Mean Time
  • hth = hope this helps
  • icbw = I could be wrong
  • jam = just a minute
  • k = okay
  • lmk = let me know
  • mcibty = my computer is better than yours
  • oic = oh I see
  • pls = please
  • plz = please
  • q = queue
  • rumf = are you male or female?
  • sil = sister-in-law
  • tia = thanks in advance
  • uok = you ok?
  • vr = virtual reality
  • wdymbt = what do you mean by that?
  • y2k = year 2000

© 2009 Josef Essberger